The widow and mother of Che Taylor are filing a federal lawsuit against the City of Seattle and two police officers involved in the man’s death.
Both women are accusing the defendants of violating Taylor’s civil rights, asserting claims of assault, excessive force, false arrest, unlawful seizure, and negligence and violation of Washington’s anti-discrimination statutes.
Individually named alongside the City of Seattle are Officers Michael Spaulding and Scott Miller – both of whom, reports the Seattle Times, fired upon Taylor. Dashboard cameras installed in their patrol car captured audio recordings and video footage of the incident.
An eight-member jury cleared the involved law enforcement officers of any wrongdoing, with only one panelist saying they weren’t sure whether Taylor posed a “threat of death or serious bodily injury.”
Taylor, writes KIRO7, was killed during a traffic stop in February 2016.
The case is rife with racial overtones – Taylor is African-American, while the two officers who shot him are white.
According to information gleaned by the Seattle Times, Spaulding and Miller were conducting surveillance of an area building when Taylor arrived unexpectedly. The officers say they recognized the man immediately – Che Taylor was purportedly a “major player” in North Seattle’s drug trafficking and prostitution scene and had previously served hard time for rape and robbery.
Taylor, while not driving the vehicle, allegedly had a handgun holstered around his waist.
Considering his criminal past, the officers gauged that Taylor was subject to immediate arrest as a felon in possession of a firearm.
Dashcam footage shows Taylor walking across a parking lot toward another car when both officers emerge on-screen with long guns drawn. Ordering Taylor to the ground, the man initially complied before crouching down and reaching for his waist.
Taylor’s mother and widow claim that he was simply trying to comply with police commands, while prosecutors and law enforcement officials say his movements were those of a man unholstering a handgun.
In addition to claiming officers had been too quick to react, the suit accuses law enforcement of failing to render immediate first aid to Taylor. A ‘critical lapse’ occurred between the time Taylor was shot and medical crews were allowed to treat him.
KIRO7 notes that officers involved in shootings are supposed to handcuff the suspect before calling in for first aid – a procedure Spaulding and Miller followed.
But Taylor’s surviving family argue that Che was targeted due to his race, alleging that neither officer felt threatened by the two Caucasian passengers who’d been accompanying the man. Despite making quick movements – lunging toward a door, for instances – neither the driver nor a white woman in the backseat were deemed threats.
Taylor was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was later pronounced dead. Law enforcement officials say several bags containing crack cocaine and black tar heroin were found in his possession.